Thanksgiving Vacation!

November 26, 2013 at 11:12 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

Scott and I leave town this afternoon and begin a roughly 18 hour drive to my grandparents house in Louisiana.  We’re meeting my sister and her boyfriend in Louisville so we’ll all be splitting the driving and the gas but it’s still going to be long – just no way around that.  But I’ve got my ear plugs, my pillow, my book, some movies and my tofurkey so I should be able to handle it.  It will be cheaper than flying though so at least that’s something!  Plus, apparently my sister’s car has an actual outlet in it so we can use my laptop to watch movies for the duration of the trip.  What, you didn’t realize cars had outlets?  Yeah, me neither.  What a world we live in!

Away we go!

So, I’m more than ready for a vacation.  While it won’t be super warm down south this year, it’ll be warmer than it is in Chicago (where I spent my walk home last night sliding all over sidewalks and waddling to avoid busting my ass).  Plus, I get to see all kinds of family members I haven’t seen since last Thanksgiving.  There will be tons of good food and we’ll cap off the holiday with a cousins-oriented trip to New Orleans on Friday night.  Clearly, I have a lot to be thankful for.

In fact, here’s a brief list!

  • My family is pretty amazing…I miss them on a daily basis but am always grateful for the time we share.
  • My friends are rad too and I wouldn’t be who or where I am without them.  Even those I don’t talk to or see as much as we’d like – I love and miss them all.
  • My boyfriend is also great.  We may drive each other nuts sometimes but there’s no one else I’d rather be nuts with.
  • My job…it pays my bills…
  • My little cat, The Dude.  He makes me laugh and finally quit waking me up at the buttcrack of down with his incessant meowing.
  • My health.  Because it really is easy to take for granted.
  • The fact that I live in one of the coolest cities ever (my opinion of course, but my opinion is often right).
  • My comfy yoga pants.  Because they will come in handy on Thanksgiving.

Hope you and yours have a great holiday and that you have plenty to be grateful for!  And if you can manage to stay away from Black Friday shopping, you’ll have a lot to be thankful for indeed.

 

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Read All About It!

November 25, 2013 at 3:27 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

The Field Museum is known for their extensive and impressive collections as well as many of their famous exhibits, but something that a lot of people don’t realize is that actual scientists work for the Field, too.  They do tons of research, data collection and experimentation and their discoveries often help science in general move forward or at least better explain the past.  Case in point:  Siats meekerorum.

Yay science!

You can read all about it here but basically, scientists from the Field recently helped discover an entirely new dinosaur, one that was a significant precursor to the famous T-Rex.  It’s pretty exciting because it’s the first bit of hard evidence of a new species of dinosaur in North America and will hopefully eventually help prove that dinosaurs were equally dispersed throughout the continents instead of residing in one specific area.  Plus – scientists from the Field were a part of this discovery!

The specimen is in no way as intact as Sue, the T-Rex in the main hall of the Field, but that’s mostly because Sue is one of the largest and most complete fossil records ever found.  Still, the new dino is pretty exciting.  I’m not sure if it will eventually be displayed at the Field or what but it will probably take a very long time before the study of the remains is complete, so they have a while to think about it.  I’d love to see it though!  And until I do, the artist’s rendition will have to do.

 

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Foodie Friday!

November 22, 2013 at 3:16 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

Another delicious crock pot masterpiece!

I love pumpkin pie this time of year and was inspired to make pumpkin pie pudding in the old slow cooker a few weeks ago.  To make this, I needed:

  • 1 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree
  • 1 12 oz. can of evaporated milk
  • 3/4 cup Bisquick
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • whipped topping to go on top

Now since it’s another crock pot recipe, you can bet your ass it’s easy.  You basically mix everything but the whipped topping all together, toss it in the crock pot on low and walk away for about 6 or 7 hours.  This gives you time to go to the gym, clean your apartment and take a shower.  Or take a huge nap.  Or have an extra long dance party.  Or read most of a book, write some of a book or watch 3 or 4 movies.  You get the idea.

And this is the result:

Mmm pie...

Mmm pie…

While the recipe calls this pudding, it tastes mostly like the inside of a pumpkin pie.  I sprinkled a generous amount of pumpkin pie spice on the whipped topping when I served it and it was pretty great.  Of course, if I’m going to be completely honest I should admit I prefer actual pumpkin pie better.  I even have some in my fridge right now.

Gotta love the holidays!

 

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Lamb

November 21, 2013 at 12:12 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

I may not have read the book club book but I have spent the last few weeks reading Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal.  This was written by Christopher Moore and was recommended to me by a friend.  I usually enjoy her suggestions so I grabbed it from the library and dove right in!

If you’ve ever wondered how Jesus fed all those people on a few loaves of bread and some fish, this is the book for you.

Anyone who has really studied the Bible knows that there is a huge gap in the timeline in regards to the life of Jesus.  Essentially, something like 30 years go by without being accounted for.  This book takes a humorous approach to those missing years and tells what happened during that time from the point of view of the guy who grew up being best friends with Jesus.  Obviously it’s all entirely fiction (and some would say the same of the Bible, but that’s a different topic altogether) and the story is told in good fun, without taking itself too seriously.  The narrator starts off the book being brought back from the dead 2000 years after he died by an angel so he could write this new gospel, since all of the other ones missed those years entirely.  According to Biff, he and Jesus left home around age 13 to hang out and learn from the three Magi who came to Jesus when he was born.  They spent time doing everything from learning ancient Buddhist secrets in the far East to hanging out with half a dozen Chinese concubines while being fed dates and figs.  Well, Jesus never did that but Biff was all about it.  See, one of the best parts about the book is just how different the two friends are.  Jesus is well…Jesus, and while he gets into some trouble and has the same temptations that all kids do, he’s genuinely a good guy who wants to make the world a better place.  Duh, he’s Jesus.  Biff is a little more vulgar and can enjoy those temptations without worry.  He sleeps around, talks about masturbation, beats people up with the kung-fu skills he learned in the East and has no problem telling Jesus about all the stuff he’s missing out on.  Mary Magdalene is there too (affectionately known as Maggie) and the little love/friend triangle the three have going on throughout the book is pretty entertaining.  We also get to meet all of the Apostles and the personalities that Moore gives them were colorful and inventive.  Many famous scenes from the Bible are also elaborated up, such as the whole walking-on-water incident, the time that Jesus washed everyone’s feet and the night that Jesus turned the water into wine.  Of course, the book ends as we all know it does but there are still some twists and turns that I appreciated.  And yes, I may have shed a tear before I closed the book for good.

Now, I was raised Catholic and went to Catholic school.  I understand how a depiction of Jesus getting drunk and spewing over the side of a camel could piss off some religious types.  I can see how some would find this book blasphemous or insulting.  Personally, however, I found it really entertaining and a fun read.  It’s not something that’s going to be for everyone but what would be the fun in that?  It gave me a new perspective and honestly made me want to re-read some biblical passages so I’d say I got a lot out of it.  If you think it sounds funny rather than damning, pick it up and give it a read!

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November Book Club Review

November 20, 2013 at 12:21 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Before I get started here, I have two disclaimers.  First – I didn’t read the book, which was Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan.  I didn’t even really try.  Well, I put it on reserve at the library but it didn’t come in on time and so I just kind of left it at that.  I haven’t seen much of Gaffigan’s stand up or anything so I can’t say I’m a huge fan to begin with.  The ladies in book club seemed to enjoy it but I think they were surprised at how much the book pertained to parenting.  Maybe we should’ve seen that coming, but oh well.  As none of us have kids of our own I think the girls found it somewhat difficult to relate but funny nonetheless.

Gotta love BYOB

Okay, second disclaimer – I was heavy into the wine on this book club night.  I met with a friend after work for some happy hour drinks and she’s going through some difficulties right now so we commiserated over a few glasses of wine before I met up with the club.  The restaurant we went to, 90 Miles Cuban Cafe, is BYOB and that was additional danger.  We all showed up with bottles of wine and it was the birthday of one of our members so we…really celebrated.  One of the members also brought her visiting little sister along (don’t worry, she was over 21 so not that little) and I think she had as much fun as we did.  At least I hope so.  Anyway I celebrated so much so that apparently I volunteered to host January’s meeting at my apartment.  Whoops!  We’re not meeting next month due to the holidays so I’ll have plenty of time to prepare and clean before having everyone over.  I think it’ll be a lot of fun because we’re playing some raunchy adults-only card game too.  Plus, I kind of like playing Betty Crocker.

Anyway, let’s just say my restaurant review might be more detailed had I not been enjoying the wine so much.  90 Miles is a Cuban place that has some really cool decor and a great vibe.  There wasn’t a plethora of meat-free options so I ordered two appetizers – the empanadas and the yuca fries.  Both were really good and I could’ve eaten a few more orders but managed to rein myself in.  This place isn’t super close to my apartment so I don’t know when I’ll get back but I would definitely like to.

Since I didn’t read the book this month I’ll probably take tomorrow to review a different book that I did read, so you can look forward to that!  See, even being an occasional wine lush doesn’t stop me from being literate.  It’s called being a modern-day woman.

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Sharp

November 18, 2013 at 12:49 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

About halfway through my morning today, I stretched a big stretch and noticed it.  Yet another hole in the right elbow of one of my favorite sweaters.

How does this even happen?

How does this even happen?

This makes the third one I’ve found since I started wearing my fall/winter clothing a few weeks ago.  The holes never appear on the left elbow, only the right.  Hell, you can see for yourself that this particular sweater actually has two holes on the right side!

So apparently I have supernaturally pointy elbows.  I’m not sure what to do about this.  Can one gain weight simply in their right elbow?  Doesn’t seem like that would be an easy thing to do.  Should I learn to patch my sweaters with leather so I look like some pretentious college professor?  Or cut the sleeves off and turn all my hole-y sweaters into t-shirts?  I pretty much just learned to sew on a button this year so I don’t think my skills are yet to the point where I can fix giant holes in sensitive areas.

I’m seriously open to suggestions.  Are there elbow-softening surgeries out there that I’m not yet aware of?  Should I start wearing elbow pads like I’m a little kid going on my first bike ride?  Or just suck it up and deal with the fact that poking holes in clothing is a super lame superpower I seem to possess?  Maybe I can start a trend.  Wasn’t there a scene in Mean Girls where the popular girl in school started wearing tops that were cut to show off her bra and then everyone else followed suit?  I wonder if I could pull off an elbow showing fad.  I’m sure it would have been all the rage back in Victorian England – my elbow would’ve caused quite the scandal.  Anyway, I guess this is why I can’t have nice things.

At least I have a deadly sharp weapon with me at all times.  Try to cut in line in front of me and just see what happens!

 

PS – WordPress.com told me that today is the 4th anniversary of when I started this blog.  My, how time flies.  Someone owes me some fruit or flowers!

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Foodie Friday!

November 15, 2013 at 11:46 am (Uncategorized) (, , )

Man, I love my crock pot.  As in, my first child might just be named Crock.  Or Pot.  Ok, maybe not Pot.

When I was home a few weeks ago, my mom gave me a HUGE butternut squash that my sister had given to her.  It was large and intimidating and I’m pretty sure it was sent home with me because no one else knew what to do with it.  Frankly, neither did I and for a few weeks I just worked it into my Halloween decor.  However I took down decorations last weekend and that blasted gourd was still sitting there, taking up a large portion of my kitchen table and mocking me.  So on Sunday I decided to destroy it.

That turkey is pretty much the extent of my Thanksgiving decorating.

That turkey is pretty much the extent of my Thanksgiving decorating.

By destroy, I mean cook and then eat its insides.  I still wasn’t sure what to do with it but luckily the internet exists and was able to help me out.  Using my superior search engine skills, I was able to figure out how to roast it and then what to do from there.  I started by taking a huge knife and giving myself a pep talk on not chopping off any fingers.  Then I cut the whole squash in half, put some butter and brown sugar on it and placed the halves open side up in the oven for about half an hour.  After taking it out and letting it cool (this is very important, trust me), I was able to cut the whole thing up into smaller pieces.  Then I dumped everything in that amazing device known as the crock pot, added two cups of water (or milk) and some of the fresh herbs my momma also sent me home with and walked away.  Ok, honestly I danced away because I was so excited to be doing some more easy cooking.

I used my handheld immersion blender about four hours later to liquefy all of the chunks and make everything nice and smooth.  I added some more herbs and butter, then got ready to eat.  When I served it I added a spoonful of Greek yogurt (or sour cream or something similar) and blended it together before chowing down.  I actually think that yogurt really helped bring the soup together but Scott passed on that and said his was still good.  Of course he has to say things like that or I kick him in his sleep, so try it for yourself to see what you think.

It was really tasty, really healthy and REALLY easy.  Just how cooking should be!

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Mental Health Day

November 14, 2013 at 11:20 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

So, after I realized earlier this week that Thanksgiving is a week later than I originally thought, I also realized that didn’t leave me with much time to use my last remaining personal day at work before the end of the year.  Our paid time off doesn’t roll over and if we don’t use it we lose it so I decided to help get myself into the holiday spirit by taking a day off of work yesterday.  And it.  Was.  Glorious.

Ahhh…

I didn’t do anything and it was everything I hoped it could be.  I stayed up late Tuesday night watching one of my favorite shows and then I woke up early yesterday to treat myself to breakfast.  There’s a place I pass almost every day and I never venture there on weekends because it becomes stupidly packed super early, but the crowd isn’t too bad during the week.  So I braved the cold temps, packed up my book and enjoyed a nice breakfast all to myself.  Then I went home and took a three-hour nap and it was pretty much the best thing ever.

I was slightly more productive in the afternoon as I tidied up the apartment and went for a quick workout at the gym.  Then I made brownies and drank some wine, thus capping off my fantastic and wonderful day off of work.  Now it’s almost Friday, I have book club tonight and a weekend to look forward to!

Can I please take Wednesday off every week?

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Mondaze

November 11, 2013 at 2:02 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

Welp, I’m an idiot.  For months, months, I’ve thought that Thanksgiving fell on November 21st this year.  Whether that’s because we have an extra weekend this month and it threw me off or it’s because I simply can’t read a calendar, there it is.  I requested the wrong dates off of work and it’s been in my head that this is the last full week I had to work before my super awesome family fun time vacation in Louisiana.  I scheduled volunteering and hanging out with friends around this, a fictitious date for a holiday.  Super crap.

I am a dumbass.

Once I realized my mistake today, I immediately emailed my boss to proclaim my stupidity and beg for the right days off instead.  That wasn’t a problem and this change actually makes work a little easier as I had a few big projects due the week I thought I’d be gone that I’ll now be around to take care of.  The major downside here is that I’ve been under the impression that after working this week plus one Monday, I’d be on vacation for another week.  Glorious visions of family time and warmer weather have been dancing through my head and I was analyzing next week’s weather in Louisiana just this morning.  All for naught.  Now I’m stuck with a stupid snow/rain mix here in Chicago and an extra week until I can get away from it all.  A week that I have to work, since my vacation starts in fifteen days instead of eight, as I previously assumed.  We all know what assuming does and I am a prime example.  I’m still not even sure how this happened – I stare at schedules and calendars all day long and given how much this took me by surprise,  you would think I was actively trying to be ignorant of the date of Thanksgiving.  It’s all a huge mistake but boy, I feel foolish.

At least I didn’t buy a plane ticket.

Stupid Monday.

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Foodie Friday

November 8, 2013 at 12:35 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

I know I talked about this meal a lot and I’m finally getting around to posting it.  This was the menu for a dinner party Scott and I had a few weekends ago.  Disclaimer – it tasted much better than it looked.  I promise!  And the reason the mac and cheese is green is that I put spinach and green peppers in with the recipe.  So don’t let my unappetizing phone picture deter you from this delicious and somewhat nutritious meal!

It really was good!

Like my Halloween themed table?

We had mashed cauliflower, vegan mac and cheese and eggplant/zucchini sandwiches.  Here are the details:

Sandwiches:

  • Jimmy John’s day old bread (can be purchased in most stores for .50/loaf) with the inside torn out.  This leaves more room for toppings – trust me, I used to work there and it’s how they make their sandwiches too.  Bread goes in the oven to toast it.
  • pesto on the bottom half
  • provolone cheese
  • tomato slices
  • marinated eggplant and zucchini from Trader Joe’s (frozen, must heat up on a baking sheet first)

Basically, stack it all up on the sandwich and put back in the oven to melt everything together.

Mashed Cauliflower with Chives and Garlic:

  • large cauliflowers, chopped into florets (I used three for six people and it was more than enough)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 6 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes (found at Whole Foods…and truth be told, I didn’t know what the hell they were until planning this meal)
  • 6 tbsp butter/vegan butter
  • 3 tbsp fresh chopped chives
  • salt, pepper and red pepper to taste

Boil all of the cauliflower until it’s soft enough to stick a fork through.  Drain and put into a large bowl and puree/mash as you see fit (I used an immersion blender, super easy).  Mix in the remaining ingredients and you’re all set.

Vegan Mac and Cheese

  • 6 cups cooked macaroni pasta
  • 1 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 can cannelloni beans, drained
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 cup mashed sweet potato
  • 1/3 vegan butter, softened
  • 1 cup fresh cooked spinach
  • 1/2 cup cooked red, yellow and green peppers
  • red pepper, salt and pepper to taste

Put everything but the noodles into a blender and go to town.  You can thin out the sauce with soy milk, soy creamer or water if you like.  Then you just pour the “cheese” (because that’s what all that resembles, even if it is green) over the macaroni and blend together.

Voila!  That’s the meal.  I realize the whole vegan thing is a turn off to some people but even the carnivorous members of our group got up for seconds (well, some of them) so I’d say it wasn’t too bad.  I enjoyed it myself and plan on trying it again sans the greenery this weekend!

 

 

 

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